Posts Tagged ‘transgender’

Five years already? A hormonal balance

April 27, 2015
A molecular model of estradiol.

A molecular model of estradiol.

The date was April 27, 2010.

The location was the clinic next door to, and affiliated with, Adventist Medical Center in Selma, California, a small and dusty farming city (mainly grapes), 20 minutes south of Fresno via Highway 99.

The doctor (who, as of Spring 2015, retired from her practice to move to the Northwest to be closer to her son and daughter) was a post-op who had lost her job up in the Northwest a few years earlier due to prejudice, and the only place she could find to set up anew, after much searching, was there, in Fresno County. There, her patients included young families, mostly Mexican farm workers, looking to treat their sick children … and transgenders, mostly male-to-female, who were looking to take that next leap forward.

And this was huge because in a county of a million people, there were only two doctors at the time who prescribed hormones. One was in Fresno, a man who gave his patients their hormones in pill form. The other was this doctor in Selma, who not only administered the estradiol in injection form — a more effective method — she was post-op, using the same conservative protocol on patients that she used for her own transition.

And that afternoon, she left the honors to the nurse, who told me as she readied the needle, “Wow — You’ve really got a big butt” — which, at the time, wasn’t fat, but mostly muscle from bicycle riding, so it actually was kind of a compliment.

And a shot to the right cheek, in the delta area between my lower back and my ass, and it was done.

Except for all that has happened since. And as of today, it’s been five years after I crossed one of the biggest Rubicons I had to cross in my transition. (more…)

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Graduation day, or Frannie 2.0 goes to her high school reunion

December 15, 2014

You need to understand two things about me going to my 35th high school reunion the first Saturday of October, at Holy Cross in Waterbury, Ct.:

1) I was actually a little nervous heading into this. I have no clue why. I mean, granted, it was the first reunion I’d attended in 15 years, and a lot of things had transpired since — two

A years-ago shot of my old high school.

A years-ago shot of my old high school.

cross-country moves, one huge, honking stretch of unemployment, four jobs and, oh yeah, one gender transition. But I’m through the worst of my hell now, at least as long as I’m able to keep my job. And I’m out and living in the everyday world and either people don’t read me as trans, or they do and they don’t give a shit. And I really don’t give a shit what people think anymore, which is huge for someone who always strove to please everyone for most of my life (and often failed).

But when I do think of it, maybe I do know why I was so apprehensive — because I was a good Catholic boy, went to a Catholic high school, and due to a depression brought on by a combination of the harassment by the kids in my hometown of Prospect growing up and the hormonal imbalance that lasted from puberty to my first hormone shot in 2010, it was four of the most emotionally turbulent years of my life. Not to mention four of the most formative. And these were the people I shared those four years with, for better and worse. And I was going back to Waterbury, a place as provincial — and in some ways nearly as right-wing — as Fresno, my home-in-exile for eight years. (Three of my school’s most notable alumni include a former governor and two former Waterbury mayors — all Republicans, all of whom are doing, or have done, or have done and will do again, prison time.)

2) Five years ago, as the 30th reunion was going on, I was 3,000 miles away, laying in the fetal position on my bed in Fresno — the Waterbury of California — in the room I was renting from, what I was painfully starting to learn, an alcohol-dysfunctional family. While the gathering of successful businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, moms and the obligatory movie star (Dylan McDermott finally made it to a reunion) took place back here, I was in T-shirt and shorts, a couple days’ growth on my face, alternating between bouts of sobs and trying to sleep. After an hour or so, I would get up off the bed and make my way over to the desk and fire up the laptop and play online poker, and when I was too tired to concentrate any more, I walked back over to the bed, went fetal again and back to bouts of tears. Lather, rinse, repeat.

At that point, I was out of work for seven months, and in the time since I was laid off from The Fresno Bee, I got not one nibble, despite a solid resume — no jobs to be had, no prospects anywhere. And it was a little over two weeks since the night I came out to my parents, and I was starting to feel the weirdness from them. (It would take another 14 months, and more anguish, before they were finally on board with 2.0.) This was not what I bargained for when I moved across the country five-and-a-half years earlier. Instead of being an editor at one of the biggest papers in the most populous state in the country, I was now an utter, absolute, total, complete, supply-your-own-creative-redundant-synonym-here failure. And in between sobs, I prayed to a god that had abandoned me and asked for the courage, the energy, to get up off the bed, grab the bicycle and go riding to one of the many grade crossings in Fresno and wait for a train to come by and hit me. And like my many other prayers, and many resumes, over the coming years, it went ignored. I wussed out, eventually drifted off to sleep at some point, and there was a morning after, and the sun came out.

So yeah, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into this particular Saturday night.

(more…)

Dear Time: Thanks for nothing.

June 6, 2014
I guess transpeople are trendy, now that Time says so.

I guess transpeople are trendy, now that Time says so.

One of the big buzzes at the beginning of last week (the day after Memorial Day) was that a transperson was to be featured on the cover of Time — Laverne Cox, one of the co-stars of Orange Is the New Black. Time teased us with a Q-and-A with Ms. Cox but kept the online version of the cover story behind a subscriber paywall. Some of my wonderful and extremely supportive friends were excited about this and messaged me on Facebook and sent links to the Q-and-A and offered me their copies of the issue when they were finished with it. And I, too, was somewhat excited, cautiously curious at how Time would play this story.

I finally got a copy in the mail at the beginning of the week (courtesy of my friend and former Fresno Bee colleague, Diana Ramirez-Simon), and, well, I wanted to read it and let it swirl around a little bit before I added my two cents to what I’ve been calling the last frontier of civil rights for some time now.

Okay, I’ve read it, all nine pages — actually, four pages, after you take out the photos and the half-page of air on the lede page — and, well, I’m not happy. Time, thanks for nothing. I’ll explain …

(more…)

The blinding glare of the spotlight: Welcome to storytelling

February 27, 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S776lS6rQW0://

I was bored the first Monday night of 2013. My hangout Starbucks, 10 minutes from New Haven, was closing, and I didn’t feel like going home just yet. So I headed up 95 and into downtown, to Ninth Square and the friendly confines of my favorite club, Cafe Nine.

You can see me -- maybe too much of me -- but I certainly can't see you..

You can see me — maybe too much of me — but I certainly can’t see you.

I figured I’d get there in time to hit the tail end of Get to the Point!, a new monthly first-Monday storytelling series, but I was a little too late. Not too late, though, to do some commiserating at the bar. There, I sat in between the show’s host, longtime New Haven arts writer Christopher Arnott, who was my “rival” music writer when I was at the daily New Haven Register and he at the weekly New Haven Advocate; and the lovely and quite-talented Lys Guillorn, a singer/songwriter I didn’t really know before I moved away but who has become a dear friend and supporter in the two years since I came out as transgender to most of the people I knew in Connecticut.

And Chris, in the midst of perhaps the longest conversation we had in the 25 years or so that we’ve known each other, asked me, “So when are you gonna tell a story?”

The thought had crossed my mind before. After all, having lived in Fresno for eight years — the home of the largest fringe festival west of the Mississippi, the Rogue Performance Festival — I’ve harbored the notion of doing a one-woman show the past three years and debuting it there (because, after all, I began my wild gender trip there). Of course, I want to finish my book first, which I can’t do because I don’t have that happy ending yet (in other words, the job, or perhaps the sugar mama), so that kinda rules out the show for now.

But maybe storytelling would be a way to work up to doing a fuller, longer, more theatrical performance. And for all the writing I’ve done about gender matters the last three years on this very blog, and in a page-one op-ed piece in the Register in June 2011, I’d never talked about it on stage. Sure, I’ve talked about it on the radio — I came out to my WPKN audience on my 20th-anniversary show in January 2011 — and last fall, I talked about trans healthcare to two nursing classes at Southern Connecticut State University.

But this was a stage. The domain of a performer. How would this play with a mic and a spotlight and a lot of people who didn’t know about me or my story?

Nervous much? Not that much, but still, a brave new world …

(more…)

Jan. 9, 2008 (My Feast of the Epiphany)

January 9, 2013
You don't know this yet, but five years from now, you're gonna be one gorgeous babe.

You don’t know this yet, son, but five years from now, you’re gonna be one gorgeous, styling babe.

(c) 2013, Fran Fried

In much of Christianity, January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany — the commemoration of the revelation of God the son in human form through Jesus, whether it be the visitation of the Magi to the baby in the manger (Western Christianity) or the grownup Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (Eastern Christianity). (And thanks to Lys Guillorn for reminding me of that a couple nights ago.)

In the life of this estranged Catholic, the Feast of the Epiphany takes place three days later. It was five years ago this very evening, January 9, 2008, that Fran the daughter was revealed to a fat, schleppy, uncertain, middle-aged man with no self-esteem in the middle of California, in a voice so loud and creepy that it sounded as if it came from outside my body.

My life, as you can imagine, was never the same after that. And thank God for that. And I can’t believe it’s been that long ago already.

With the distance of time, it’s hard for me in current form to comprehend what has happened to me. Oh, I sure as hell do know what happened. I just still can’t believe I listened to that voice and acted on it. Smartest and best thing I’ve ever done.

(more…)

Ask Aunt Fran: Healthcare

November 18, 2012

Well, it’s been a long time, kids, but welcome back to another installment of Ask Aunt Fran, where you, the curious reader, ask me, the curious woman with a little something extra, questions about this transgender-type trip I’ve been on nearly five years now.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to ask about transfolks but were afraid to ask — well, don’t be afraid to ask! That’s what this here blog thang is here for! If you have my email or my Facebook page, just message me in private; otherwise, email me at franoramaworld@gmail.com. Unless you want the notoriety, all questions will be anonymous. And — my version of the lawyer-weasel disclaimer: The answers I give are pertinent to my own situation. Every transperson’s trip is different; your mileage may vary.

Anyway, this comes up in the thick of Transgender Awareness week (Nov. 13-19), so the timing couldn’t have been better. I had dinner and coffee the other night with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. She knew about the transition, but it’s the first time she had seen Frannie 2.0 up close. And she had some questions.

And one resonates very loudly with me personally and the trans world in general:

“What do you do about healthcare?”

You mean besides grope and stumble and get lucky a lot?

Details coming up …

(more…)

Going home, Day 3, 8/15/12: The wrong toins at Albuquoique

November 5, 2012

Hmmm … this don’t look like a decent motel!

Oct. 27, 2012

Here’s the third day of my epic move home from Fresno to Connecticut, accompanied by the lovely and talented and wonderful Alexis.

For Going Home, the prequel: Loose Ends, click here.

For Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not., click here.

For Going Home, Day 2, 8/14/12: Sharing Needles, or not even out of California yet, click here.

I set the cellphone alarm for 1 a.m. That would give us four hours’ sleep. Neither of us wanted to stay in Needles any longer than we had to. And especially in our bedbug-infested room at the Best Motel. But we needed some rest. But I also needed to get us on the road, and if I could make up for lost time from the first day and the load-in day — ease into a routine where we left earlier and retired earlier — then I wanted to do that.

Besides, we still had a long way to go. One day down — it was now Wednesday morning — and we were still in California, even if we were just across the Colorado River from Arizona. But Alexis brought along an old Rand McNally road atlas, with both a map of the U.S. and larger maps of the individual states in alphabetical order. And I would look over the map at different stops.

Rather than be daunted by the long stretch of road ahead, as I looked at the national map, I viewed it with joy. I mentally tried to figure out just how far we could get from day to day, how much of a chunk we could take out of the map,  and how soon we’d get back to Connecticut. The road might get boring at times, but the payout come the weekend would be well worth it. I hoped.

(more…)

The Month of George Bailey

August 10, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t something I usually mention, let alone ponder, in early August. (At least wait ’til the department stores start putting up their Christmas stuff, in late August.)

My view of Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s 1946 masterpiece (and you have to give Stewart co-billing here, because, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it wouldn’t have have resonated this long and loudly without him) is colored by how I’m feeling about life that particular holiday season. If I’m happy and perhaps prosperous — and maybe, on those rare occasions, even in love — then I sit there and soak in the glow of a tale of a man who has done great deeds, none of which have seemed to have gone unpunished, pushed to the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, dragged back by a bedraggled guardian angel second-class who died in the 18th century, shown what the world would be like had he never been born, and ultimately rewarded in a most wonderful way.

But as often as not — and especially last Christmas, living in a miserable, passive-aggressively hostile rental situation, the hours of my on-call copy-editing about to be slashed to nothing just 3 1/2 months after I returned to the work world after 2 1/2 years out of work — I felt more like this:

Years like last, I avoid the film, grumbling about how much of a crock of shit it is — how George Bailey is only a fictitious character, and that this shit doesn’t happen in real life.

(In fact, last year, I watched not one Christmas special, and Jeff Day and I didn’t even do our annual radio run-through of Rudolph on WPKN. And my back was turned to the TVs in the newsroom as I worked the copy desk Christmas Eve night, as one showed It’s a Wonderful Life and the other showed A Christmas Story. And on Christmas Day proper, I sat in my miserable room at the Happy House watching a documentary on a renowned and brilliant atheist — American: The Bill Hicks Story.)

It’s been a month now since I discovered that my work hours at The Fresno Bee were going bye-bye — and unlike the previous two occurrences this year (after Christmas and Easter), when I regained some hours eventually, this felt permanent. (And that was hammered home two evenings ago, Aug. 7, when I learned two more of my ex-colleagues, one on the copy desk, were laid off.).

When Kris, my boss, told me the news, I just knew it was time. A brief moment of “Not yet — I can’t afford this!” followed by a huge sense of calm. I had reached the end. It was time to go home. This time, the voice of reason wasn’t the loud whisper that told me, “Okay — it’s Fresno” the day the Bee’s then-features editor emailed me in October 2003, asking if I’d be interested in the assistant features editor position. Or the out-of-body experience I felt at the moment of my gender epiphany in  January 2008, the voice asking me quite clearly from someplace to my left, “Can you do this?” This was a slight sag of the shoulders, the slow letting-out of air, and me saying, out loud to Kris, “It’s time.”

But how was I gonna do this?

I wasn’t ready for what followed. It’s been one part It’s a Wonderful Life, one part learning experience. Kind of having to learn to redefine the concepts of success and failure.

(more…)

Someone please explain this ‘love’ and ‘romance’ thing to me at some point …

June 19, 2012

(The original version of “What’s This Shit Called Love?” by The Pagans. Cleveland punk, 1978. Later redone by The Meatmen.)

My gender transition — which started nearly 4 1/2 years ago with a simple question to myself while sitting on the bed one evening — is, for most intents, over at this point.

Wardrobe? Check. Shoe closet? Checkcheckcheckcheckcheck and then some! (Actually, it’s more like a couple of huge piles on the bedroom floor at this point, with little room in the

No, this was not from a casting call for The Bachelorette.

closet …) Out to friends and family? Check. Hormones? Check. License changed over? Check. Living full time? Check. Job interviews as Frannie 2.0? Check. (No job yet, unless you count going back to my former place of employment as a part-timer, which I guess does count for something …)

But there are some things that still need checking off; they’ll have to wait until I can get myself a real job and get situated again financially.

Electrolysis, so I don’t have to shave my face and neck and chest every day and risk ripping up my skin … hair restoration (because, even though my usual blonde bob from Kim’s Wigs in Fresno rules, I really need to know what it’s like to rock my own hair, which is now a mix of silver and gold) … liposuction (lots of it) and a tummy tuck, and maybe some off the thighs, so I can rock a little dress …

And love …

Wait. What the hell is that?

Yes — even more than getting a full-time job in the work world, even more than the minor-yet-expensive cosmetic mop-ups, the one thing that will truly make me feel like the woman that’s been brewing in me since childhood: Love. A lover, a companion, a partner in spiritual and even physical intimacy, whatever form that may take nowadays in this changed Franscape.

At this point, I’m afraid I don’t understand the concept. And last I knew, a date was a dried fruit.

(more…)

My Pride parade

June 2, 2012

Just another of the thousands of Beach Boys fanatics at the Greek Theatre at UC-Berkeley last night. My own little unintentional Pride parade.

The spirit was willing but the flesh was very weak. And maybe I’m just not as young as I used to be.

Last night, I went to see one of my all-time concerts — probably the final time I’ll see my beloved Beach Boys, on their 50th-anniversary tour, from the third row center at the University of California’s Hearst Greek Theatre in Berkeley.(They played 46 songs in about 2 1/2 hours — no way are they gonna “Do It Again” after this tour, all of them nearing 70.)

With a couple-hour stop for a nap on the way back to Fresno, I got back to the house-that-I-refuse-to-call-a-home at 5 a.m. The adrenaline was flowing, so I posted the playlist on Facebook and answered a couple of responses. Finally was ready to sleep at 6:30 this morning. I set the alarm for 8:30, fully expecting to jump up and hit the shower and head to the Tower District for the Pride parade at 10, as usual on the first Saturday of June.

“Uh-UHHHHH,” my body said, wagging its finger at me. “Girlfriend, you get your ass back to bed!” So since my body has been fighting me of late, with problems with allergies and breathing and a lot of restless sleep — and because I have to work tonight — I gave in and settled in for some more unsettled sleep. (more…)